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Volume 8: Health Insurance, Part IV

While the ACA has problems – serious ones – it is a fact that in the seven years since it has passed, the Republican Party has not come up w

Still no exchange death spiral

But "death spiral" is not just a couple random words. Like most things in the English language, these words actually mean somethin

On Russia

Well, maybe this presidency is more like "The Americans" than reality TV. I don't want to get too newsy at a serious publication like LobbySeven Commentary. And this is not my most original take. But I don't see how we can move on until we get answers with evidence to the following questions: Michael Flynn: Did Flynn talk to the Russian ambassador before the election? For the talks during the transition, did he have permission to have these talks? Was he ordered to have them? If so, did he have permission to discuss sanctions? Did he report the results of the calls to Trump (or write a memo etc)? What was Flynn's testimony to the FBI in the immediate aftermath of the call? (Update: seems he

Volume 7: Bayesian Analysis

Why You Can Never Be Sure of Anything “Bet you $50 it hasn't.” – xkcd #1132 People don’t like thinking probabilistically. They crave certainty. That rock on the side of the road is definitely a rock. That apple is definitely red. It rained today, so the chances of rain were definitely 100%. The discussion of “what we know” is a philosophical topic, not a mathematical one. Math is useless if we want to know if our entire universe is a single atom in a larger dimension. Bayesian Inference helps us to describe “what we learned.” In other words, we begin by knowing some things and then we gain information; now we know more. The difference from what we knew before to what we know now is our learn

Even more technical detail about Social Security

So I've been meaning to give an update on Social Security since writing Volume 1, but hadn't gotten around to it. But I found a very interesting document at the end of December along the lines of what we discussed - changes to Social Security and what effect they might have. First, for a bit of background: Sam Johnson, a Republican Congressman from north Texas, is the chairman of the subcommittee in charge of Social Security. In this role, he introduced a bill to make certain changes to SS and then asked the SSA to comment on what they would do. This is their response. I think it is important to note: the fact that the bill was written does not mean that Rep. Johnson actually wants to make t

L7 scoops the NYTimes!

So New York Times is not yet quoting Lobby Seven Commentary. But, maybe they should, because we scooped them, writing a "Grading Obamacare" story four full days before they did. You can read their story yourself, but its conclusions are broadly consistent with mine. I will comment on a couple items I found interesting. Their thesis is that the ACA had the effect of changing nation's "baseline expectations for how health care should work." This is an important point which I did not discuss. Before the ACA, the idea that Americans had a right to health care was not yet universal. There was a large uninsured population and always had been. They had a right to emergency room care if they broke t

Obamacare: What do Private Actors Think

So I came across this thread, from Andy Slavitt, who was President Obama's head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid. He is probably the single person in Obama's government most responsible for the implementation of the ACA. Out of a job now, he seems to have some time on his hands. And if you look at the thread, he plans to spend it by touring the country and talking to executives at various companies in the world of health. You can read the thread on your own (and I encourage you to follow @ASlavitt), but my two takes are that: 1. Consistent feedback that the ACA is a net positive for the financial health of the companies he's spoken to. Lower bad debt, better margins, hospitals seeing

This ain't no death spiral (Obamacare edition)

So just after I published about the results of Obamacare, I came across a little document that demonstrates better how you can square my claims about the cost of Obamacare with the ALL CAPS HEADLINES declaring that premiums are going to infinity. In case you don't want to open the doc yourself - from 2015 to 2016, gross average premiums increased by 8% ($30 / month) and net average premiums by 4% ($4 / month). This is not a crisis. Why are these increases so much lower than you've been reading? Well, the numbers reported usually talks about increases on a per-plan basis. But, people who have plans that go way up in price - they have a choice, going out and finding a new plan, which fully 43%

Can the Federal Government Make You Buy Broccoli?

So in our pieces on the Affordable Care Act, I've mercifully avoided discussing the various court cases on the topic. But I was thinking about one of them this morning and had a bit of a mental breakthrough. The most important case on the Affordable Care Act was NFIB v. Sebelius. It was a complex case with several parts, but the most important question was whether the Federal Government had the power to force (or coerce) people to buy health insurance. In Volume 4, we showed that an individual mandate is a feature in every successful private health insurance. But our government has limited powers, and just because something is important doesn't mean it can be done. During the oral argument,

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